A shoutout during Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention last week is bringing new attention to a program called Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youth. In the program, known as HIPPY, parents receive weekly home visits from a coach who shows them how to prepare their children for school.
In his speech, Clinton noted that his wife brought the HIPPY program to Arkansas when he was governor.
“Clinton discovered the program many years ago when it came to the U.S.,” says Margie Margolies, the chairwoman of HIPPY USA‘s board (no relation to Marjorie Margolies, Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law). “She was instrumental in growing the program in Arkansas when Bill was governor. She had been working for a way to boost the educational start of children in Arkansas, so she reached out to the Israeli founder to find out how to scale it up. Arkansas is still one of our largest programs.”
An article in the Summer 2016 issue of Education Next looks at the impact of home visits with parents of older children.
The concept of having teachers visit their students’ homes isn’t particularly new. Montessori pioneered the idea to smooth first-day-of-school jitters for toddlers, and Head Start has long used home visits to teach parenting skills to young mothers.
The visits made by teachers to the homes of their K-12 students have the goal of engaging parents in their child’s learning by improving trust and communication and clarifying goals.
Kronholz talks with one principal in Washington, D.C. about how home visits might impact learning.
“I don’t think you can quantify it and tie it to an assessment,” she conceded, but the visit “changes the dynamic.” Parents feel comfortable sharing information about traumas that might be haunting their children, she said. Children open up to a teacher who has seen their bedroom or patted their dog.
Tough conversations—as when a child is unruly or needs special-education testing—become easier. Even the affluent, laid-forward parents responded, she said: they call and ask for information rather than become accusatory when a rumor sweeps the carpool line.
Beyond that, she said, the visits help teachers differentiate their lessons based on what they learned about the kids. That differentiation—a hot concept in education these days—is one of the unexpected fruits of home visits, Harvard’s Mapp says. “We can get teachers the information they need to reach students individually,” she explained.
– Education Next